How well do Germans speak English

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04-26-2014, 04:13 PM
Location: Winterpeg & up
6,731 posts, read 6,034,616 times
Originally Posted by Jesse44
What Germans do you people know? I have only crossed one who couldn't speak English and this was in a small town called Oranienburg.

All Germans I've met speak English better than half the people I went to school with. I'm not even joking, in fact I can't seem to go a day without hearing someone speak in double negatives, made up merged words and nonexistent grammar. A lot of them have a heavy accent, but that doesn't change their overall excellent skill and education with the language. They learn it formally from a young age and live in Germany, and therefor don't have the time to bastardize it in to the familiar crap English you hear from a lot of native speakers. That's really the only difference.
Great post, I agree. I knew a few German international students who spoke very very well and better than many locals. My city has lot's of trash and wannabe gangsters though, I am sure a civilized city like Calgary would be much better.
04-26-2014, 05:07 PM
Location: Outer Boroughs, NYC
1,708 posts, read 1,382,047 times
Originally Posted by vernon-9
But generally Germans speak English almost native- level (not even compared to French people) and their accent is not really there (is it because German and English are both Germanic Languages?!).
As an American who speaks 4 languages, I think that's inaccurate. Most Germans and Austrians don't speak near-native English. There's a difference between a good (or even competent) grasp of a foreign language and "near-native fluency" of vocabulary, grammar, syntax and idioms. As for accent, most English-speakers find Germans' and Austrians' accents to be, well, kind of harsh -- every bit as harsh and foreign as the accents Americans and Britons have when they speak German at a comparably good skills level. Though a Germanic language, English has a different phonetic system and stress level than German does. The accent in most German-speakers' English is not "native" to me in the least unless the German/Austrian has spent some time in an English-speaking country. That's different.
04-27-2014, 11:53 AM
1,471 posts, read 1,680,991 times
No, their accent is very strong and German has many "false friends".
Scandinavians and Dutch speak much better.
04-27-2014, 02:41 PM
Location: Where Sunday shopping is banned in the USA
334 posts, read 337,276 times
Scandinavians and the Dutch speak the best English by far in Europe (especially those under 50).

In Germany according to statistics around 64% speak English, vs. near 90% in Scandinavia and the Netherlands.
04-27-2014, 04:23 PM
Location: Gatineau, QC, Canada
3,402 posts, read 4,583,169 times
The people saying that Germans have bad English need to identify their experience (or lack thereof, which I highly suspect) in Germany. Just because it isn't as great as those in Scandanavia doesn't make it bad. That is relativism.

And what the hell? Their accent is strong? How does that affect their grasp? It's not even an accent that is difficult to understand. In that case, the Scottish have bad English.
04-27-2014, 04:53 PM
Location: Outer Boroughs, NYC
1,708 posts, read 1,382,047 times
@Jesse. No one said Germans and Austrians speak "bad English." I said that their level of fluency is rarely "near native" unless they have lived/studied awhile in an English-speaking country. Without that, they have a noticeable accent that (to me) is harsher than that of a native speaker (Texan or Scot or Australian). It's not bad, just not as good as someone whose mother tongue is English. That's true of any other language, by the way, if it isn't your mother tongue.
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